Experience of Wood & History of Woodcarving

Wood characterises the Bernese Oberland with its extensive forests. For centuries, healthy tree populations have reliably provided a renewable raw material with a wide variety of uses. It is hardly by chance that the centre of Swiss wood sculpture was also established here, or more precisely in the region of Brienz.
Many deciduous and coniferous woods are suitable for carving, such as . maple . oak . elm . poplar . birch . olive . larch . yew or, also particularly good, lime/basswood.
They offer a wide choice of hard or soft woods for indoor or outdoor use. They also differ in colour, scent and grain. Wood carvers then have a wide choice for their works of art.

Wood – the most stable material in the plant sector?
Wood – the perfect building material of the future?
Wood – when a tree becomes a work of art …
Wood – warms heart, soul and living room

Wood carving in Switzerland –  a centuries-old tradition

The oldest dated woodcarvings go back to the years 506 and 915 AD. Many well-preserved works, mostly made of oak, date from the early and late Gothic periods and still adorn cathedrals, minsters and churches today. Accordingly, they are characterised by religious motifs. With the Renaissance, movable household goods began to increase, and rooms were furnished with richly carved panelling. Little by little, furniture, building ornaments as well as figures and sculptures made of wood were created.

During the Baroque and Rococo periods, wood sculpture experienced its greatest development and can be traced throughout the Alpine region. It has helped to shape the various international trends and can be seen today in a wide variety of facets.

Woodcarving at Home in the Bernese Oberland

Woodcarving is particularly rooted in the Bernese Oberland. This is clearly visible on houses, in living rooms and on everyday objects. Often these were created by herdsmen and shepherds. It took decades for the farmers of the Oberland to make the transition from carving for their own use and diversion to carving as an artistic craft.

As the centre of woodcarving, Brienz also took on its responsibility, the discussion surrounding the striving for quality, which was constantly called into question by the routine and cheap mass production of the widespread souvenir industry. This area of tension threatened the further high-quality development of the trade, which depended on talented and innovative craftsmen and artists.

Today and the Woodcarving School Brienz

Of central importance was the founding of the Woodcarving School in 1884, today the only school for wood sculpture in Switzerland. As an artistic centre, it not only teaches future woodcarvers the fundamentals of craftsmanship and art, but also plays an important role in the communication and further development of national and international trends in arts and crafts. The school’s leading masters were and are significantly involved in the stylistic development of Swiss arts and crafts.